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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The El Gordo Massive Galaxy Cluster

    04/21/2014 10:57:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | April 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is bigger than a bread box. In fact, it is much bigger than all bread boxes put together. Galaxy cluster ACT-CL J0102-4915 is one of the largest and most massive objects known. Dubbed "El Gordo", the seven billion light years (z = 0.87) distant galaxy cluster spans about seven million light years and holds the mass of a million billion Suns. The above image of El Gordo is a composite of a visible light image from the Hubble Space Telescope, an X-ray image from the Chandra Observatory showing the hot gas in pink, and a computer generated map...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Massive Nearby Spiral Galaxy NGC 2841

    04/21/2014 7:43:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is one of the more massive galaxies known. A mere 46 million light-years distant, spiral galaxy NGC 2841 can be found in the northern constellation of Ursa Major. This sharp view of the gorgeous island universe shows off a striking yellow nucleus and galactic disk. Dust lanes, small, pink star-forming regions, and young blue star clusters are embedded in the patchy, tightly wound spiral arms. In contrast, many other spirals exhibit grand, sweeping arms with large star-forming regions. NGC 2841 has a diameter of over 150,000 light-years, even larger than our own Milky Way and captured by this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ash and Lightning above an Icelandic Volcano

    04/20/2014 3:14:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 34 replies
    NASA ^ | April 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why did a picturesque 2010 volcanic eruption in Iceland create so much ash? Although the large ash plume was not unparalleled in its abundance, its location was particularly noticeable because it drifted across such well-populated areas. The Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland began erupting on 2010 March 20, with a second eruption starting under the center of a small glacier on 2010 April 14. Neither eruption was unusually powerful. The second eruption, however, melted a large amount of glacial ice which then cooled and fragmented lava into gritty glass particles that were carried up with the rising volcanic plume....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth-size Kepler-186f

    04/20/2014 3:08:56 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | April 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Planet Kepler-186f is the first known Earth-size planet to lie within the habitable zone of a star beyond the Sun. Discovered using data from the prolific planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft, the distant world orbits its parent star, a cool, dim, M dwarf star about half the size and mass of the Sun, some 500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. M dwarfs are common, making up about 70 percent of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy. To be within the habitable zone, where surface temperatures allowing liquid water are possible, Kepler-186f orbits close, within 53 million kilometers (about the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Red Moon, Green Beam

    04/18/2014 9:44:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | April 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This is not a scene from a sci-fi special effects movie. The green beam of light and red lunar disk are real enough, captured in the early morning hours of April 15. Of course, the reddened lunar disk is easy to explain as the image was taken during this week's total lunar eclipse. Immersed in shadow, the eclipsed Moon reflects the dimmed reddened light of all the sunsets and sunrises filtering around the edges of planet Earth, seen in silhouette from a lunar perspective. But the green beam of light really is a laser. Shot from the 3.5-meter telescope...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Waterton Lake Eclipse

    04/17/2014 11:31:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | April 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Recorded on April 15th, this total lunar eclipse sequence looks south down icy Waterton Lake from the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, planet Earth. The most distant horizon includes peaks in Glacier National Park, USA. An exposure every 10 minutes captured the Moon's position and eclipse phase, as it arced, left to right, above the rugged skyline and Waterton town lights. In fact, the sequence effectively measures the roughly 80 minute duration of the total phase of the eclipse. Around 270 BC, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus also measured the duration of lunar eclipses - though probably without...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spica, Mars, and Eclipsed Moon

    04/15/2014 10:01:21 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | April 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A beautiful, reddened Moon slid through dark skies on April 15, completely immersed in Earth's shadow for well over an hour. It was the year's first total lunar eclipse and was widely enjoyed over the planet's Western Hemisphere. Seen from the Caribbean island of Barbados, the dimmed lunar disk is captured during totality in this colorful skyview. The dark Moon's red color contrasts nicely with bright bluish star Spica, alpha star of the constellation Virgo, posing only about two degrees away. Brighter than Spica and about 10 degrees from the Moon on the right, Mars is near opposition and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mammatus Clouds over Nebraska

    04/15/2014 3:43:38 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | April 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: When do cloud bottoms appear like bubbles? Normally, cloud bottoms are flat. This is because moist warm air that rises and cools will condense into water droplets at a specific temperature, which usually corresponds to a very specific height. As water droplets grow, an opaque cloud forms. Under some conditions, however, cloud pockets can develop that contain large droplets of water or ice that fall into clear air as they evaporate. Such pockets may occur in turbulent air near a thunderstorm. Resulting mammatus clouds can appear especially dramatic if sunlit from the side. The mammatus clouds pictured above were...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Unusual Globule in IC 1396

    04/14/2014 1:55:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | April 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is there a monster in IC 1396? Known to some as the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, parts of gas and dust clouds of this star formation region may appear to take on foreboding forms, some nearly human. The only real monster here, however, is a bright young star too far from Earth to hurt us. Energetic light from this star is eating away the dust of the dark cometary globule near the top of the above image. Jets and winds of particles emitted from this star are also pushing away ambient gas and dust. Nearly 3,000 light-years distant, the relatively...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn in Blue and Gold

    04/12/2014 9:33:33 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | April 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why is Saturn partly blue? The above picture of Saturn approximates what a human would see if hovering close to the giant ringed world. The above picture was taken in 2006 March by the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn. Here Saturn's majestic rings appear directly only as a thin vertical line. The rings show their complex structure in the dark shadows they create on the image left. Saturn's fountain moon Enceladus, only about 500 kilometers across, is seen as the bump in the plane of the rings. The northern hemisphere of Saturn can appear partly blue for the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds and Crosses over Haleakala

    04/12/2014 3:18:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | April 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Aloha and welcome to a breathtaking skyscape. The dreamlike panoramic view from March 27 looks out over the 10,000 foot summit of Haleakala on Maui, Hawai'i. A cloud layer seeps over the volcanic caldera's edge with the Milky Way and starry night sky above. Head of the Northern Cross asterism, supergiant star Deneb lurks within the Milky Way's dust clouds and nebulae at the left. From there you can follow the arc of the Milky Way all the way to the stars of the more compact Southern Cross, just above the horizon at the far right. A yellowish Mars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mars near Opposition

    04/11/2014 9:44:30 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | April 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight Mars is between opposition (April 8) and closest approach (April 14) looping through the constellation Virgo opposite the Sun in the night sky. That makes it prime season for telescopic views of the the Red Planet, like this one from April 3rd. The clear, sharp image was captured with a high-speed digital camera and 16-inch diameter telescope from Assis, Brazil, Planet Earth. Mars' north polar cap is at the top left. Also visible are whitish orographic clouds - water vapor clouds condensing in the cold atmosphere above the peaks of Mars' towering volcanos. The exact dates of closest...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mars, Ceres, Vesta

    04/10/2014 5:55:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | April 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: That bright, ruddy star you've recently noticed rising just after sunset isn't a star at all. That's Mars, the Red Planet. Mars is now near its 2014 opposition (April 8) and closest approach (April 14), looping through the constellation Virgo opposite the Sun in planet Earth's sky. Clearly outshining bluish Spica, alpha star of Virgo, Mars is centered in this labeled skyview from early April, that includes two other solar system worlds approaching their opposition. On the left, small and faint asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres are seen near star Tau Virginis. But you'll just have to imagine...
  • Americas get front-row seat for lunar eclipse

    04/09/2014 5:45:12 PM PDT · by kingattax · 30 replies
    Yahoo/AP ^ | 4-8-14 | MARCIA DUNN
    VIDEO AT LINK CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — North and South America, get ready for the first eclipse of the year— in color. Next Tuesday morning, the moon will be eclipsed by Earth's shadow. This total lunar eclipse will be visible across the Western Hemisphere. The total phase will last 78 minutes, beginning at 3:06 a.m. EDT and ending at 4:24 a.m. EDT.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Rings for Asteroid Chariklo

    04/09/2014 2:34:44 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | April 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Asteroids can have rings. In a surprising discovery announced two weeks ago, the distant asteroid 10199 Chariklo was found to have at least two orbiting rings. Chariklo's diameter of about 250 kilometers makes it the largest of the measured centaur asteroids, but now the smallest known object to have rings. The centaur-class minor planet orbits the Sun between Saturn and Uranus. The above video gives an artist's illustration of how the rings were discovered. As Chariklo passed in 2013 in front of a faint star, unexpected but symmetric dips in the brightness of the star revealed the rings. Planetary...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M42: Inside the Orion Nebula

    04/08/2014 10:38:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 45 replies
    NASA ^ | April 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image composite in assigned colors taken by the Hubble Space Telescope wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Solar Eclipse from the Moon

    04/06/2014 9:15:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | April 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Has a solar eclipse ever been seen from the Moon? Yes, first in 1967 -- but it may happen again next week. The robotic Surveyor 3 mission took thousands of wide angle television images of the Earth in 1967, a few of which captured the Earth moving in front of the Sun. Several of these images have been retrieved from the NASA archives and compiled into the above time-lapse video. Although the images are grainy, the Earth's atmosphere clearly refracted sunlight around it and showed a beading effect when some paths were blocked by clouds. Two years later, in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fresh Tiger Stripes on Saturn's Enceladus

    04/06/2014 1:59:16 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | April 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Do underground oceans vent through the tiger stripes on Saturn's moon Enceladus? Long features dubbed tiger stripes are known to be spewing ice from the moon's icy interior into space, creating a cloud of fine ice particles over the moon's South Pole and creating Saturn's mysterious E-ring. Evidence for this has come from the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn. Pictured above, a high resolution image of Enceladus is shown from a close flyby. The unusual surface features dubbed tiger stripes are visible in false-color blue. Why Enceladus is active remains a mystery, as the neighboring moon Mimas, approximately...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lunar Farside

    04/05/2014 4:06:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | April 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tidally locked in synchronous rotation, the Moon always presents its familiar nearside to denizens of planet Earth. From lunar orbit, the Moon's farside can become familiar, though. In fact this sharp picture, a mosaic from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's wide angle camera, is centered on the lunar farside. Part of a global mosaic of over 15,000 images acquired between November 2009 and February 2011, the highest resolution version shows features at a scale of 100 meters per pixel. Surprisingly, the rough and battered surface of the farside looks very different from the nearside covered with smooth dark lunar maria....
  • Norwegian Skydiver Almost Gets Hit by Falling Meteor — and Captures it on Film

    04/04/2014 6:34:08 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 45 replies
    www.universetoday.com ^ | April 3, 2014 | by Nancy Atkinson
    It sounds like a remarkable story, almost unbelievable: Anders Helstrup went skydiving nearly two years ago near Hedmark, Norway and while he didn’t realize it at the time, when he reviewed the footage taken by two cameras fixed to his helmet during the dive, he saw a rock plummet past him. He took it to experts and they realized he had captured a meteorite falling during its “dark flight” — when it has been slowed by atmospheric braking, and has cooled and is no longer luminous. Norwegian astrophysicist Pål Brekke confirmed to Universe Today that the story is true. “I...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Along the Western Veil

    04/04/2014 3:43:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | April 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Delicate in appearance, these filaments of shocked, glowing gas, draped in planet Earth's sky toward the constellation of Cygnus, make up the western part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock wave plows through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- At the Edge of NGC 2174

    04/02/2014 9:41:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This fantastic skyscape lies near the edge of NGC 2174 a star forming region about 6,400 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation of Orion. It follows mountainous clouds of gas and dust carved by winds and radiation from the region's newborn stars, now found scattered in open star clusters embedded around the center of NGC 2174, off the top of the frame. Though star formation continues within these dusty cosmic clouds they will likely be dispersed by the energetic newborn stars within a few million years. Recorded at infrared wavelengths by the Hubble Space Telescope, the interstellar scene spans...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mars Red and Spica Blue

    04/02/2014 8:14:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A bright pair of sky objects will be visible together during the next few months. Mars will shine brightly in its familiar rusty hue as it reaches its brightest of 2014 next week. The reason that Mars appears so bright is that Earth and Mars are close to each other in their long orbits around the Sun. Spica, on the other hand, shines constantly as one of the brightest blue stars in the night sky. Pronounced "spy-kah", the blue-hued star has been visible throughout human history and the sounds that identify it today date back to ancient times. Pictured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Space Station Robot Forgets Key Again

    04/01/2014 5:46:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | April 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Space station robot AFJ013 has forgotten her space lock key again. The frustrated robot was reduced to tapping on a space station window and asking for a human to let her back in -- for the third time this week. "Yes, she did a great job adjusting the tolerances on the new science module, but why she can't remember to take her key is beyond me," said incredulous station commander Koichi Wakata (Japan). "We would keep the entry unlocked but we are afraid that space aliens will come in and raid our refrigerator", the astronaut lamented. Happy April Fools'...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 2012 VP113: A New Furthest Known Orbit in the Solar System

    04/01/2014 5:37:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | March 31, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What object has the furthest known orbit in our Solar System? In terms of how close it will ever get to the Sun, the new answer is 2012 VP113, an object currently over twice the distance of Pluto from the Sun. Pictured above is a series of discovery images taken with the Dark Energy Camera attached to the NOAO's Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile in 2012 and released last week. The distant object, seen moving on the lower right, is thought to be a dwarf planet like Pluto. Previously, the furthest known dwarf planet was Sedna, discovered in 2003....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Io in True Color

    03/29/2014 9:11:51 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | March 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The strangest moon in the Solar System is bright yellow. This picture, an attempt to show how Io would appear in the "true colors" perceptible to the average human eye, was taken in 1999 July by the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. Io's colors derive from sulfur and molten silicate rock. The unusual surface of Io is kept very young by its system of active volcanoes. The intense tidal gravity of Jupiter stretches Io and damps wobbles caused by Jupiter's other Galilean moons. The resulting friction greatly heats Io's interior, causing molten rock to explode...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Milky Way Dawn

    03/29/2014 5:39:58 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: As dawn broke on March 27, the center of the Milky Way Galaxy stood almost directly above the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory. In the dry, clear sky of Chile's Atacama desert, our galaxy's dusty central bulge is flanked by Paranal's four 8 meter Very Large Telescope units in this astronomical fisheye view. Along the top, Venus is close to the eastern horizon. The brilliant morning star shines very near a waning crescent Moon just at the edge of one of the telescope structures. Despite the bright pairing in the east, the Milky Way dominates the scene though. Cut...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stripping ESO 137-001

    03/28/2014 7:20:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | March 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Explanation: Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001 hurtles through massive galaxy cluster Abell 3627 some 220 million light years away. The distant galaxy is seen in this colorful Hubble/Chandra composite image through a foreground of the Milky Way's stars toward the southern constellation Triangulum Australe. As the spiral speeds along at nearly 7 million kilometers per hour, its gas and dust are stripped away when ram pressure with the cluster's own hot, tenuous intracluster medium overcomes the galaxy's gravity. Evident in Hubble's near visible light data, bright star clusters have formed in the stripped material along the short, trailing blue streaks....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stephan's Quintet Plus One

    03/26/2014 10:41:09 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The first identified compact galaxy group, Stephan's Quintet is featured in this remarkable image constructed with data drawn from Hubble Legacy Archive and the Subaru Telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea. The galaxies of the quintet are gathered near the center of the field, but really only four of the five are locked in a cosmic dance of repeated close encounters taking place some 300 million light-years away. The odd man out is easy to spot, though. The interacting galaxies, NGC 7319, 7318A, 7318B, and 7317 have a more dominant yellowish cast. They also tend to have distorted...
  • New planet nicknamed after Biden

    03/26/2014 10:15:21 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 41 replies
    The Hill's Briefing Room ^ | March 26, 2014 | Justin Sink
    Astronomers have nicknamed a new dwarf planet circling the sun at the outer edges of the solar system after Vice President Joe Biden. According to Nature, a leading scientific journal, the object's official designation is 2012 VP113. But the team studying its orbit around the sun colloquially refer to the planet as just "VP" or "Biden," after the sitting vice president. The object won't carry an official title until scientists collect more data. After determining its orbit, they'll submit a formal name to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for consideration. The Biden dwarf is the second such object to be...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds

    03/26/2014 7:12:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78 and other bright reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion. The dark filamentary dust not only absorbs light, but also reflects the light of several bright blue stars that formed recently in the nebula. Of the two reflection nebulas pictured above, the more famous nebula is M78, in the image center, while NGC 2071 can be seen to its lower left. The same type of scattering that colors the daytime sky further enhances the blue color. M78 is about five light-years across and visible through a small...
  • Has Nasa found a new Earth? Astronomer discovers first same-sized planet in a 'Goldilocks zone' ...

    03/25/2014 10:32:40 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 75 replies
    www.dailymail.co.uk ^ | PUBLISHED: 08:57 EST, 24 March 2014 | UPDATED: 10:03 EST, 24 March 2014 | By Victoria Woollaston
    The host star hasn’t been named but was identified as an M1 dwarf M dwarfs make up 70% of stars in the galaxy and are smaller than our sun Nasa astronomers found a total of five planets orbiting this unnamed host The outermost planet sits in the star’s habitable zone and may have liquid water on its surface This so-called goldilocks planet is believed to be 1.1 times the size of Earth Until now, the most Earth-like planet was Kepler-62f - 1.4 times the size Details of the new star system are due to be announced later this year The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion Nebula in Surrounding Dust

    03/25/2014 6:35:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | March 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What surrounds a hotbed of star formation? In the case of the Orion Nebula -- dust. The entire Orion field, located about 1600 light years away, is inundated with intricate and picturesque filaments of dust. Opaque to visible light, dust is created in the outer atmosphere of massive cool stars and expelled by a strong outer wind of particles. The Trapezium and other forming star clusters are embedded in the nebula. The intricate filaments of dust surrounding M42 and M43 appear gray in the above image, while central glowing gas is highlighted in brown and blue. Over the next...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion and Aurora over Iceland

    03/24/2014 6:44:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | March 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If you see a sky like this -- photograph it. A month ago in Iceland, an adventurous photographer (pictured) chanced across a sky full of aurora and did just that. In the foreground lies the stratovolcano Öræfajökull. In the background, among other sky delights, lies the constellation of Orion, visible to the aurora's left. Auroras are sparked by energetic particles from the Sun impacting the magnetic environment around the Earth. Resultant energetic particles such as electrons and protons rain down near the Earth's poles and impact the air. The impacted air molecules obtain excited electrons, and when electrons in...
  • Creationists go nuts over Cosmos, demand "equal time"

    03/23/2014 8:36:36 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 64 replies
    Examiner.com ^ | March 21, 2014 | William Hamby
    You've probably heard that Cosmos, the new version starring Neil deGrasse Tyson, is causing waves because it's on FOX, and it actually talks about (gasp!) evolution. But this week, Christians upped the ante on crazy by demanding "equal time" for creationists. You know, because they need things to be "balanced." In his typically incisive style, deGrasse explained one reason why that's a silly idea. “You don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers..."
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The View Near a Black Hole

    03/23/2014 4:38:43 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | March 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In the center of a swirling whirlpool of hot gas is likely a beast that has never been seen directly: a black hole. Studies of the bright light emitted by the swirling gas frequently indicate not only that a black hole is present, but also likely attributes. The gas surrounding GRO J1655-40, for example, has been found to display an unusual flickering at a rate of 450 times a second. Given a previous mass estimate for the central object of seven times the mass of our Sun, the rate of the fast flickering can be explained by a black...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Martian Chiaroscuro

    03/22/2014 5:29:09 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | March 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Deep shadows create dramatic contrasts between light and dark in this high-resolution close-up of the martian surface. Recorded on January 24 by the HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scene spans about 1.5 kilometers across a sand dune field in a southern highlands crater. Captured when the Sun was just 5 degrees above the local horizon, only the dune crests are caught in full sunlight. With the long, cold winter approaching the red planet's southern hemisphere, bright ridges of seasonal frost line the martian dunes.
  • NASA Discovers New Gully on Mars

    03/21/2014 6:30:15 AM PDT · by 12th_Monkey · 34 replies
    Space.com ^ | March 20, 2014 | Mike Wall
    A NASA spacecraft has spotted a big gully on Mars, a feature that appears to have formed only within the last three years. The powerful HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) imaged the channel, which is found on the slope of a crater wall in the Red Planet's mid-southern latitudes, on May 25, 2013. The feature was not present in HiRISE photos of the area taken on Nov. 5, 2010. NASA unveiled the image on Wednesday (March 19). While the Mars gully looks a lot like river channels here on Earth, it likely was not carved out by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Trails over El Capitan

    03/21/2014 6:04:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | March 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Towering 3,000 feet from base to summit, the famous granite face of El Capitan in Earth's Yosemite National Park just hides the planet's north celestial pole in this skyscape. Of course, the north celestial pole is at the center of all the star trails. Their short arcs reflecting the planet's daily rotation on its axis are traced in a digital stack of 36 sequential exposures. Linear trails of passing airplane navigation lights and a flare from car lights along the road below are also captured in the sequential stack. But the punctuated trail of light seen against the sheer...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Solargraphy Analemmas

    03/20/2014 8:28:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | March 20, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Today is the equinox. The Sun crosses the celestial equator heading north at 16:57 UT, marking the northern hemisphere's first day of spring. To celebrate, consider this remarkable image following the Sun's yearly trek through planet Earth's sky, the first analemmas exposed every day through the technique of solargraphy. In fact, three analemma curves were captured using a cylindrical pinhole camera by daily making three, separate, one minute long exposures for a year, from March 1, 2013 to March 1, 2014, on a single piece of black and white photographic paper. The well-planned daily exposures began at 10:30, 12:00,...
  • Scientists say destructive solar blasts narrowly missed Earth in 2012

    03/20/2014 10:46:14 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 27 replies
    www.reuters.com ^ | Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:14am EDT | By Laila Kearney
    Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday. The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth's magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. That blast knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, according to University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann. "Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have...
  • Watch an asteroid pass in front of a bright star tomorrow morning from the north east US/Canada

    03/19/2014 12:14:00 PM PDT · by messierhunter · 14 replies
    This is a rare opportunity to witness an asteroid pass in front of a bright star, blocking out its light for up to ~14 seconds. Occultations occur all the time, but rarely do they happen to stars that are this bright and easy to see by naked eye. In that sense, it is likely a once in a lifetime event for those living near the path of occultation. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo and the 22nd brightest star in the night sky overall. The occultation will occur at about 2 am tomorrow morning. The path takes...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Equinox on a Spinning Earth

    03/19/2014 4:28:26 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 19, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: When does the line between day and night become vertical? Tomorrow. Tomorrow is an equinox on planet Earth, a time of year when day and night are most nearly equal. At an equinox, the Earth's terminator -- the dividing line between day and night -- becomes vertical and connects the north and south poles. The above time-lapse video demonstrates this by displaying an entire year on planet Earth in twelve seconds. From geosynchronous orbit, the Meteosat satellite recorded these infrared images of the Earth every day at the same local time. The video started at the September 2010 equinox...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cosmic Microwave Map Swirls Indicate Inflation

    03/18/2014 4:40:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | March 18, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Did the universe undergo an early epoch of extremely rapid expansion? Such an inflationary epoch has been postulated to explain several puzzling cosmic attributes such as why our universe looks similar in opposite directions. Yesterday, results were released showing an expected signal of unexpected strength, bolstering a prediction of inflation that specific patterns of polarization should exist in cosmic microwave background radiation -- light emitted 13.8 billion years ago as the universe first became transparent. Called B-mode polarizations, these early swirling patterns can be directly attributed to squeeze and stretch effects that gravitational radiation has on photon-emitting electrons. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Warped Sky: Star Trails over Arches National Park

    03/17/2014 7:39:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 17, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happened to the sky? A time warp, of sorts, and a digital space warp too. The time warp occurs because this image captured in a single frame a two and a half hour exposure of the night sky. As a result, prominent star trails are visible. The space warp occurs because the picture is actually a full 360 degree panorama, horizontally compressed to fit your browser. As the Earth rotated, stars appeared to circle both the North Celestial Pole, on the left, and the South Celestial Pole, just below the horizon on the right. The above panorama over...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Antennae Galaxies in Collision

    03/17/2014 7:32:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | March 16, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Two galaxies are squaring off in Corvus and here are the latest pictures. When two galaxies collide, the stars that compose them usually do not. That's because galaxies are mostly empty space and, however bright, stars only take up only a small amount of that space. During the slow, hundred million year collision, one galaxy can still rip the other apart gravitationally, and dust and gas common to both galaxies does collide. In this clash of the titans, dark dust pillars mark massive molecular clouds are being compressed during the galactic encounter, causing the rapid birth of millions of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 17 VIP Site Anaglyph

    03/14/2014 9:29:12 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | March 15, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this stereo scene from Taurus-Littrow valley on the Moon! The color anaglyph features a detailed 3D view of Apollo 17's Lunar Rover in the foreground -- behind it lies the Lunar Module and distant lunar hills. Because the world was going to be able to watch the Lunar Module's ascent stage liftoff via the rover's TV camera, this parking place was also known as the VIP Site. In December of 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 2685

    03/14/2014 9:23:34 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | March 14, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 2685 is a confirmed polar ring galaxy - a rare type of galaxy with stars, gas and dust orbiting in rings perpendicular to the plane of a flat galactic disk. The bizarre configuration could be caused by the chance capture of material from another galaxy by a disk galaxy, with the captured debris strung out in a rotating ring. Still, observed properties of NGC 2685 suggest that the rotating ring structure is remarkably old and stable. In this sharp view of the peculiar system also known as Arp 336 or the Helix galaxy, the strange, perpendicular rings are...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 63: The Sunflower Galaxy

    03/13/2014 4:51:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | March 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A bright spiral galaxy of the northern sky, Messier 63 is about 25 million light-years distant in the loyal constellation Canes Venatici. Also cataloged as NGC 5055, the majestic island universe is nearly 100,000 light-years across. That's about the size of our own Milky Way Galaxy. Known by the popular moniker, The Sunflower Galaxy, M63 sports a bright yellowish core in this sharp, colorful galaxy portrait. Its sweeping blue spiral arms are streaked with cosmic dust lanes and dotted with pink star forming regions. A dominant member of a known galaxy group, M63 has faint, extended features that could...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sun Rotating ;

    03/12/2014 6:38:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 34 replies
    NASA ^ | March 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does the Sun change as it rotates? Yes, and the changes can vary from subtle to dramatic. In the above time-lapse sequences, our Sun -- as imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory -- is shown rotating though the entire month of January. In the large image on the left, the solar chromosphere is depicted in ultraviolet light, while the smaller and lighter image to its upper right simultaneously shows the more familiar solar photosphere in visible light. The rest of the inset six Sun images highlight X-ray emission by relatively rare iron atoms located at different heights of the...